Blog

  • 08/23/2016

    8 Essential Back-to-School Tips for Parents - Getting Your Apartment Home Organized for Success!






    With a well-rounded summer vacation ending, parents spend a lot of time getting their kids ready for school. New school supplies, haircuts, and special end-of-summer outings all play into the back-to-school routine. There are some other things that parents can do for themselves and their kids to ensure a smooth transition into the school year, too. Take a look below at few ways to get this year off to a great start in your apartment home.

    Set up a bedtime and wake-up routine. The school day is long in addition to the bus travel time get back to your apartment home. Then there is homework, time to relax, baths, dinner and bed. By the time the first school bell rings, kids will already be on the right sleeping schedule and it will be one less worry for your family if you stick to an early to bed early to rise routine.

    Get to know new teachers. There will be open houses, orientations, and other meet-and-greet options at the beginning of the school year, but none will give you the chance to spend some quality time getting to know your kids’ teachers. Try to find a few minutes before or after school to connect one-on-one with the teachers. At the very least, send an introductory email that includes how you can help during the school year, however big or small.

    Plan healthy lunches and snacks. The better you plan out the meals in your apartment home, the healthier choices you will make for your kids. When you pack protein-rich snacks and lunches, balanced with fruits, vegetables, and other wholesome items, you ensure that your children will have the energy and brainpower to make it through their school days.

    Organize clothing
    . Of course you will need to donate or otherwise get rid of the clothing that your kids have outgrown, but you should also take the time to carefully organize what is left. From there, decide what items you may need more of before school begins.

    Set up a staging area. Find a central spot in your apartment home to store everything related to school, including backpacks, upcoming outfits, and a dry erase calendar with family schedules. Try to keep this area free of clutter and other non-school items so that you can find what you need, when you need it—and quickly. Have the kids help you stock it with school-related items and keep it clean and functional. Find some inspiration here.

    Update medical records. Most schools will let you know if your shot records are out of date, but why not go beyond that? Make sure teachers and administrators have a complete list of any medical concerns regarding your kids, including allergies. You will also want to be sure that all emergency contacts are up to date.

    Talk to your kids about bullying. Research shows that one in three kids experience bullying at some point in their school career—and in the increasingly digital world, the consequences can be extreme. Make sure your kids understand the right way to treat their peers, and when to speak up if they see someone else being bullied. Also make sure they know when to come to you if they feel they are being bullied.

    Ask your kids about their concerns. The start of school is exciting, but can also bring some anxiety—especially when it comes to the unknown. Take a few minutes to ask your kids what they are most looking forward to during the school year, and what things may be worrying them. By giving them a forum to express their concerns, you can help them work through any worries in advance of school starting and clear up any issues that could lead to a bumpy start to the year.

  • 07/18/2016

    Why Should You Renew?




    Need a reason to renew your lease?

    Consider these important reasons why renewing your apartment home lease may be the best home living option for you.

    It’s easier
    For many people, a compelling reason to renew an apartment home lease at the end of the term is that moving is no fun. All of the tasks required for moving pose a challenge you might not even want to consider. Instead, you can channel the time you save into other areas of your life where the effort will be worthwhile.

    It’s cheaper
    Staying in an apartment could offer a significant cost savings over moving elsewhere. Consider how much it would cost to move out of the apartment you’re in. Hiring movers, buying packing supplies and paying the upfront costs of moving into a new apartment (costs like security deposit, pet fees and application fees) are all important considerations.

    Renewing your lease for another year or even two might offer you the opportunity to save money by locking in a reasonable rental rate right where you’re living. And even if rent is increasing for your current apartment, the cost of moving elsewhere may not equal any savings. It may simply make more financial sense to stay put.

    You’re wanted
    If you’ve received the offer to renew, your landlord wants you to stick around. When you live in a community for awhile, you have a chance to establish that you are a resident who takes care of renting responsibilities. Landlords and community managers appreciate residents with a good track record. They are likely to honor your commitment with any incentives in their power to share.

    You’re comfortable
    Finally, don’t discount the “living equity” you’ve built up in your apartment when you’re considering renewing a lease. While you may not have the advantage of building financial equity in a home, what you do have is an established place in a community you’re familiar with where you are comfortable. If you really love your living situation, your neighbors and your proximity to work and entertainment, why move? You can continue to live the good life by renewing your lease!

  • 06/27/2016

    Retirement Living: Getting Your Apartment Search Started

    After a lifetime of working, you’re finally ready for retirement. Whether you’re thinking of heading for the sun or moving closer to family, renting an apartment is becoming an extremely attractive option for seniors during their retirement. Not only does it allow you to live in a highly desired area without the need for an expensive mortgage, but it also frees you from the responsibility of costly maintenance or repairs.


    So where do you start when you’re trying to figure out your first steps into finding your perfect location?

    Check With A Top Guide

    Every year, Forbes Magazine releases their 25 Best Places to Retire guide. It takes into account factors such as housing costs, cost of living, taxes and crime, among others, to formulate which areas will give you the best retirement experience. Additionally, as many seniors decide to continue to work during retirement, unemployment and the job market is also factored in. This list is a great way to start thinking about what might be the best place for you.

    Determine the Area’s “Livability Score”

    If you’ve already got your eye on a particular area, or you’ve already started searching for apartments and want to do some research before signing on the dotted line, there’s a tool for you. The AARP, in conjunction with the Public Policy Institute, have created a Livability Index tool to measure the quality of life in American communities using multiple parameters. Factors such as housing, transportation, environment, health and social engagement are all taken into account to provide you with a snapshot of any potential senior rental community or apartment community.

    Start Thinking About Downsizing

    Like most people, you’ve probably amassed quite a collection of stuff over the years. From old school papers to furniture collecting dust in your basement, figuring out what you can and can’t part with is often tough. Try to start sooner rather than later, as it always takes longer than you think. Speak to your family about items they might like to take off your hands, or even host a garage sale. Still not able to de-clutter? Think about hiring a professional organizer, who can help you make those tougher decisions.

    Find Out What’s Available

    Searching for an apartment for your retirement can feel like a daunting task. With so many choices, how do you narrow it down? Fortunately ApartmentGuide.com gives you the ability to sort and search by exactly what you’re looking for. There are many varied options, allowing you to find the home that will make you happiest.

    Are you looking forward to your retirement? Where are you looking to go for your golden years?

  • 04/26/2016

    5 Tips To Make Your Apartment Feel More Like Home




    Home is where your heart is — even if your next home is temporary. Though it may seem challenging to make an apartment your home, whether you plan to live there one year or a few years, it can be done. The good news is it doesn’t take a lot to make it happen. A few inexpensive, small changes can go a long way. Try these simple tips to transform your apartment home into your own special space:

    Create the Fragrance of Home
    Your favorite air fresheners, scented waxes or potpourri can easily awaken the feeling of home. Whether it be a favorite scent from your past home, or a new scent that you choose for this new apartment, it can make you feel that much more at peace while living there.

    Let the Walls Speak to You
    Fill empty walls with pictures of loved ones and favorite places to make you feel right at home. Try grouping pictures together in different rooms. Hanging paintings or other artwork to add personality to your apartment home can make a space feel more like yours, too, depending on your style. If you don’t feel like putting holes in the wall or simply are not allowed to, use temporary stickers and decals for décor.

    Display a Few of Your Favorite Things
    For many people, cherished items bring comfort. The same can be said for favorite décor items like throw pillows, a special quilt or even a favorite decoration. Having a few items like these on display can not only evoke happiness but make your apartment feel more personal.

    Spend Time in the Kitchen
    Nothing says “home” like a good, home-cooked meal. Put your kitchen to good use by preparing your favorite dishes or comfort foods to create a stronger sense of home. Inviting friends or family over to enjoy a meal can also help you to feel more at home.

    Get Comfy
    If your apartment home doesn’t come furnished, invest in a few pieces of furniture. The key is to buy for quality not quantity. For example, if budget is an issue, splurge on a comfy couch but forgo the coffee table for now. If you have hardwood floors, buy an area rug to add a touch of personality. As for storage containers, don’t go for the plastic ones. Instead, opt for earthy, natural materials like baskets, linen bags and wood crates for an appealing look.

    Remember, making the most of your space with a few personal touches can definitely help it feel more like home sweet home wherever you go.

  • 03/29/2016

    Tips For Understanding Your Lease


    Whether it’s your first apartment or your tenth, navigating the pages of your leasing agreement can look intimidating, yet it doesn’t have to be. Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to look over the lease carefully, so no surprises — or extra fees — come your way. Here are a few key things to keep in mind when understanding your lease:


    Check for Accuracy

    Make sure you and your apartment manager are on the same page when it comes to the details of your lease. Double-check everything from your address, the duration of the lease period, monthly rent and due date, plus any extras — garage/storage fees (if any), utilities you’re responsible for, non-smoking policy, and more. Don’t be afraid to ask questions for clarity.


    Be Aware of the Penalties

    Even if you pay your rent on time, keep in mind the additional fees that could incur on top of your monthly rent if, for some reason, you happen to be late. Other penalty charges may include keeping trash outside your door and breaking a lease without proper notice. Make note of these additional charges so it’s not a surprise if a charge does, in fact, have to be added on.


    Understand the Escape Clause

    Life happens, which means a new opportunity could take you to a new city before your lease is up. Many apartment communities require a 30 to 60-day notice if you decide to break your lease along with a hefty penalty fee (often two to three month’s rent), as well as forfeiting your security deposit.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you decide to stay in your apartment home without renewing your lease, be sure you understand any month-to-month terms and additional fees involved.


    Secure Your Deposit

    More likely than not, you’ve had to pay a security deposit when renting. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions surrounding it — including if it’s refundable and what is needed to get it back (in full or in part) if you move out in the future.


    After the lease has been signed, be sure to obtain a copy for personal records to avoid any confusion on your part or your apartment manager's.

  • 02/23/2016

    7 Tips For Moving From Your Apartment Community With Kids




    Let’s face it, moving can be hard. But for children, a big move is often accompanied by fear of the unknown and anxiety over new schools and leaving friends behind. Fortunately, there are ways to ensure a smoother transition for your children. Here are seven practical tips for making moving from your current apartment community with kids easier for everyone:

    1. Include Them in the Process
    You have a list of things you want in a new apartment, and let’s face it, so do your kids. Asking their opinions and preferences can help ward off feelings of powerlessness and help children look forward to the move. While you cannot reasonably accommodate every request, you may find that some, such as larger bedrooms or a nearby playground, are easy to fulfill and will make your life a bit easier as well. Add these requests to your list and search for an apartment that includes as many of the items on your list as possible.

    2. Apartment Hunt Together
    Children often feel less pessimistic about change if they have a role in the decision-making process. Take them along as you check out new apartments. This will let them see the options firsthand and give input. As you narrow your list to the best choices for your family, kids may even become excited, coming up with ideas for positioning furniture and decorating their new bedrooms.

    3. Explore the Neighborhood
    The unknown can be frightening for younger children, especially if you’re moving to an entirely new neighborhood. Once you’ve settled on an apartment, spend an afternoon finding new haunts. Maybe you’ll find a playground or park nearby, a movie theater within walking distance, or an ice cream shop or bakery to visit for occasional treats. Visiting such places lets your children know the new neighborhood has plenty of promise when it comes to finding fun new activities.

    4. Accentuate the Positives
    Make a list of the best features your new apartment has to offer and share them when your children start feeling down about the move. For example, your new apartment complex may have a swimming pool or a game room, or there may be many families with kids in the building. Perhaps the location is closer to your place of employment, so you can get home earlier from work. Or maybe the new apartment is closer to school, so your child will spend less time in the school bus each day. Whatever the benefits, trot them out as often as necessary to chase away the moving blues.

    5. Pack Favorites Last
    If your child’s favorite toys, videos, or books are packed away and inaccessible, you can expect to have a crabby child on your hands in the days and weeks leading up to the move. Stress the importance of getting belongings organized and secured for relocation, but allow your child to keep at least a few favorites unpacked and ready to use until the last minute. Then, provide a box your child can use to store his things on moving day and allow him to decorate it so that it’s easy to find at your new location. If possible, let him take the box along on the ride to the new apartment. Don’t forget to double-check that everything gets packed up and into the car or moving truck on the big day. Few things cause more grief than forgotten playthings.

    6. Get Childcare Help
    No matter how well-planned a move is, moving day is stressful. Murphy’s Law often steps in to ensure that the unexpected occurs. You, and your children, may find moving less stressful if you arrange for childcare or a play date during the hectic moving process.

    7. Plan a Party
    One of the hardest parts of moving with kids is leaving good friends behind. If possible, arrange a low-key get-together in your new apartment and invite a couple of your children’s best friends to come and check out the new digs. If you’ve met new neighbors with children, invite some of them, too. This way, your children will see that moving won’t necessarily mean losing friends but instead increases the opportunity to meet new people. Trust Apartment Guide to aid your apartment search and provide moving tips you can use. Have any other tips for families gearing up for a big move? Share them with us in the comment section below, on Facebook or @AptGuide on Twitter.

  • 01/27/2016

    Empty Nest Renters Chose Apartment Living for Flexibility



    Not so long ago, empty nesters looking to downsize invariably planned on buying a smaller home. Market watchers say today a growing segment of those individuals and couples see renting as a better option.

    The housing watch group project says the aging of the baby-boom generation will add 2.2 million more 65-plus to the rental ranks in the ten years up to 2023, generating roughly half of the overall renter growth in that period.

    Apartment renting has “become a lot more attractive” to older adults, who having recently witnessed housing depreciation, do not want to risk selling in a depressed market.

    “Over the last several years, seniors have seen other seniors who wanted or needed to sell and had to do so at a bad time,” Burkons said.

    Now that the housing market is recovering, he said, many older – retired or near retired – adults who are still in family homes are selling their homes and embracing the flexibility that comes with apartment renting. The last thing they want is to be tied to a home that may or may not be worth less when it comes time to move again, in the event of a sudden change in their health or the health of a spouse or a desire to be closer to family and friends.

    Even in a strong housing market, some seniors realize they may not be in a home long enough to cover the transaction costs associated with purchasing it,making an apartment or rental less costly. All the better if the rent is significantly cheaper than a potential mortgage payment for a residence of similar size and quality.

    Then there are the other benefits of apartment living. Mowing, shoveling and burdensome (and often expensive) home maintenance issues become someone else’s problem. What’s more, apartment renters can pick up and leave much easier than homeowners. That is a tempting option for many seniors.

    “Empty nesters, particularly in the northern states, may travel for extended periods during the winter months, and they don’t want to have to worry about frozen pipes, iced-up gutters or heating issues while they are traveling.

    In addition, renting, particularly in urban settings, can put seniors closer to cultural amenities, fine dining and other entertainment options. Again, that perk speaks loudly to aging Baby Boomers, who want to stay active and connected. These urban residences also are close to public transportation or located in walkable distances to restaurants, movie theaters and coffee shops.

    Older adults who are self-sufficient have a wide range of options from traditional apartment properties to senior-specific rental communities. Senior-only apartment communities often include amenities designed to anticipate future needs, such as handicap accessible entrances and ramps, grab bars and walk-in showers in bathrooms and widened doorways and hallways. Fully equipped eat-in kitchens, in-suite washers and dryers and individually controlled heat and air conditioning are other common features. Some senior communities also come with housekeeping and on-site medical response services.

    Empty nesters who choose to rent in a more traditional apartment setting may forego some of those age-in-place comforts, but still tend to choose one-floor living.

    Strategize for a smooth downsizing

    After years of filling your house with stuff, scaling down those belongings to squeeze into the often smaller living quarters of an apartment can be a daunting – if not debilitating – task. Professional organizer Patty Clair, owner of Keeping It Simple in Cleveland, shared these tips to ease the transition:

    Plan Ahead

    Know the size and configuration of the new rooms and of your current furnishings, so that you will have a realistic idea of what will and will not fit in the new spaces. Map out where you will put the different pieces of furniture in each room and take only what fits.

    Envision Your New Life

    Take a moment to think about your life in the new space. What are you looking forward to? What are your goals? What do you envision for yourself in this new chapter of your life?

    Rely on these goals and visions when you are trying to make some difficult decisions about what to keep and what not to keep. You can ask yourself: “Does keeping this item support my vision or help me achieve the goals I set at the beginning of the process?”

    Ease into It

    De-clutter rooms or spaces that are not too emotionally charged first. Forgo the attic, for example, for a linen closet or a desk drawer. When it comes to closets, be ruthless. Get rid of everything that is too small, too big, doesn’t fit, you’ve never worn, don’t like, is stained or needs mending.

    Also, keep stress in check by taking your time and doing just a little bit each day. The same goes for unpacking at the new place. Don’t feel the need to unpack everything in a day.

    Get Help

    Don’t hesitate to get help if you need it. Utilize the assistance of others that can help with the downsizing process, such as professional organizers, senior move managers, family and/or friends.

  • 12/18/2015

    Renter's Insurance for You and Your Apartment Home. Is it Necessary?



    It’s that time of year again! The the days are getting cooler, and you are looking in to the future and thinking about all the things you can accomplish in the new year. As you finish decorating your apartment with holiday affair and make your travel plans, don’t forget about planning for renter’s insurance. Most plans allow you to tack your renter’s insurance onto your parents’ existing homeowner’s insurance for as little as $5.00 a month. This will cover your individual assets. Other plans can be purchased through your car insurance. If you want to opt for a stand-alone package, you can get up to $1.3 million dollars worth of coverage for as little as $30.00 a month through some companies. Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “why do I need this?” The answer is simple. Because you NEVER KNOW what might happen down the road.

    Here’s a quick breakdown about what most policies cover.

    Think of everything you own. Now try to assign a dollar amount to all those items. Pretty crazy, isn’t it? A standard renter’s insurance policy offers you coverage for theft, loss or destruction of your personal belongings in the event of fire, storm or other natural disasters. From your clothing to your furniture to your electronics to even more expensive and irreplaceable items, these policies can help you replace these items.




    You can even take out an extended coverage plan that will provide you with higher limits of coverage to really ensure that your items are safe and sound in your apartment home. Could you imagine anything worse than losing all your beloved belongings this holiday season from an accident like your Christmas Tree catching fire and being displaced from your apartment home?




    Liability coverage is also another standard item that often comes bundled with your renter’s insurance. This is great in case someone injures themselves at your apartment home and needs serious medical attention. You could, unfortunately, be found at fault. So, if you friend trips and falls down the stairs or someone cuts themselves with a knife in your kitchen, liability insurance will help cover those costs.

    Finally, additional living expenses are also included in renter’s insurance. Now, this doesn’t mean your policy is giving you free money to go spend around town. But, it will give you supplemental income if you are the victim of a fire or other disaster and your apartment is deemed unlivable. This means that your policy will cover expenses to include things like hotel bills, food, and other day-to-day occurrences. This means no crashing on a friend’s couch or moving back into the dorms!

    Life is hard enough without having to deal with pending “what ifs?” regarding your apartment. Do yourself a favor and drop the extra cash each month. You’ll rest easier knowing that someone else is also looking out for you!

  • 11/20/2015

    6 Holiday Tips for Your Pets & Your Apartment Home



    The holiday season is officially here! That means delicious food, ornaments, guests, decorations and many more things that can get your furry family members into trouble. Check out these six tips to keep your pets safe this season in your apartment home!

    Seasonal Plants Can Be Harmful
    Did you know that poinsettias, holly and mistletoe are all potentially poisonous to dogs and cats?
    If you choose to decorate your apartment home with traditional holiday plants be sure to keep them out of reach.

    Don't Feed Them Leftovers
    We know you think of your pet as a part of the family but they should not eat the same food you do. Fatty leftovers can upset their stomachs. Also, don't give them the bone from your holiday bird as they can cause internal injury once ingested.

    Chocolate Is Toxic
    While making your holiday baked goods and candies, keep the sweets (but especially the chocolate) away from your pets. If ingested, chocolate can be lethal. If your pet somehow eats any, call a veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center National Hotline immediately at 888-426-4435.

    Noisemakers Can Be Scary
    A pet’s ears are much more sensitive to loud sounds than a human’s. Fireworks, horns and bells can be terrifying to a pet. Be sure to keep your animals in your apartment home and in a place that they feel safe from the noises. You can also check with your veterinarian about sedatives to assist with an overly-anxious pet.

    Keep Your Pets Safe and Comfortable While Traveling
    Are you taking your pets with you on your holiday travels to see family and friends? Make sure that you have an up-to-date ID tag on your furry friend, just in case they escape. Also, make sure that you bring along things that they love – their bed, toys and favorite treats. This will help them relax and be more comfortable in a new place. If you choose to not take them with you, make sure that you have someone reliable looking after them that agrees to not only provide food and water, but to also give them a little TLC while you’re away! You should also make sure to inform your apartment office staff that your pet will be left home alone in case of emergencies.

    Keep Electrical Cords Hidden

    To prevent accidental electrocution, conceal all exposed wires with tape or plastic coverings. This includes indoors and outdoors.
     
    The holiday season is a wonderful, but stressful, time of year. Traveling, decorating, cooking and entertaining can all be hard on you and your pets. Be sure to take the time to show your pets that you love them and monitor them for any unusual behavior. Do you have any tips that you would add to this list? Share them with us!




    Blog By Jason Potts via Apartments.com

  • 10/26/2015

    Image result for holiday vacation

    Picture it. You're relaxing at a beautiful beach, about to hit the waves when suddenly you realize your rent is due today, you can't remember which utility bills have automatic payments set up and you're 90% sure you left the heat set 10 degrees above normal and you can't remember if you've locked your  apartment home windows. 

    Don't damper your vacation by forgetting to take care of the basics. We've compiled a quick checklist to help you get on the road to a stress free holiday vacation.

    Plan ahead for bills

    Avoid the mid-vacation panic of remembering overdue bills by planning ahead a little. Before you leave, set up auto pay online for both or pay them ahead of time. Don't wait until the last minute to drop off your rent check at your apartment home leasing office or schedule your next rent payment via the Tenant Portal because you're more likely to get rushed and forget to do it.

    Hold the mail

    If your expecting a package to be delivered to your leasing office, notify your apartment’s management so they will know to hold it for you until you return. Also, if you're going to be gone for an extended period of time, contact the Post Office and request that they hold your mail.

    Set your thermostat

    Don't return from vacation to huge utility bills. DO NOT turn your heat completely off or set it below 60 degrees during winter, but you can set it lower than when you're in your home. You'd be surprised how much money setting your thermostat a few degrees lower will save you on your utility bill.

    Clean up

    Speaking of hot air, you don’t want smelly trash in your apartment while you’re away. Empty all trash bins and take out the recycling before you depart. Clean out any food in the fridge or pantry, like milk that will expire while you're away and wash all the dishes in the sink. You'll be glad you did when you get back.

    Give management a heads up

    Stop by the leasing office or leave a voicemail before you leave letting management know how long you will be gone and how to reach you in case of an emergency. That way if something comes up, like a maintenance issue or a package arrives for you, they will know what to do.

    Prep your vehicle

    If you’ll be leaving your car behind while you travel, make sure it’s parked in a safe place, the doors are locked, and any valuables are either covered or removed from the car completely. Let your apartment manager or leasing staff know that your car won't be moving from it's parked spot for the duration of your vacation.

    Lock all doors and windows

    Last, but not least, check that all your doors and windows are properly locked. Close your curtains and blinds, so it won't be obvious that no one is home. Nothing will kill your post-vacation bliss faster than coming home to discover you’ve had a break-in.

  • 09/24/2015

    Reasons to Renew Your Lease

    Reasons to Renew Your Lease

    Consider these important reasons why renewing your lease may be the best home living option for you.


    It’s easier
    For many people, a compelling reason to renew a lease at the end of the term is that moving is no fun. All of the tasks required for moving pose a challenge you might not even want to consider. Instead, you can channel the time you save into other areas of your life where the effort will be worthwhile.

    It’s cheaper
    Staying in an apartment could offer a significant cost savings over moving elsewhere. Consider how much it would cost to move out of the unit you’re in. Hiring movers, buying packing supplies and paying the upfront costs of moving into a new apartment (costs like security deposit, pet fees and application fees) are all important considerations.
    Renewing your lease for another year or even two might offer you the opportunity to save money by locking in a reasonable rental rate right where you’re living. And even if rent is increasing for your current apartment, the cost of moving elsewhere may not equal any savings. It may simply make more financial sense to stay put.

    You’re wanted
    If you’ve received the offer to renew, your landlord wants you to stick around. When you live in a community for awhile, you have a chance to establish that you are a resident who takes care of renting responsibilities. Landlords and community managers appreciate residents with a good track record. They are likely to honor your commitment with any incentives in their power to share.

    You’re comfortable
    Finally, don’t discount the “living equity” you’ve built up in your apartment when you’re considering renewing a lease. While you may not have the advantage of building financial equity in a home, what you do have is an established place in a community you’re familiar with where you are comfortable. If you really love your living situation, your neighbors and your proximity to work and entertainment, why move? You can continue to live the good life by renewing your lease!


  • 09/01/2015

    Why Small Spaces Are the New Big Thing





    Small apartments are one of the dominant trends in multi-unit living. From micro apartments to efficiencies and studios, four factors are driving this phenomenon.


    Demographics

    There are roughly 86 million millennials between the ages of 18 and 33 who are eager to find ways to live independently. Social, engaged and on the go since birth, this group is seeking a fully integrated living experience. They want functional spaces with modern features situated in areas that allow them to readily connect with other young adults in their immediate and extended communities. Tulsa is no exception, in fact, the Tulsa Apartment Industry is quickly increasing their online communications.

    At the other end of the spectrum, there are more than 40 million Americans 65 or older. In many respects their motivations are similar. Roughly 70% of seniors reside in their own homes, 20% live in apartments and 10% live in transitional or care-based housing. More than 80% aspire to live independently as long as possible. To accomplish this, many are trading their homes, lawns and maintenance chores for apartments.

    Technology

    Advancements in technology have made small-space living practical and appealing. Fully functional computer systems once required hardwiring and physical space for bulky components and peripherals. Modern components are sleek, wireless and portable, so dedicated computer space is no longer essential.

    Millennials are the first generation of “digital natives,” but baby boomers are also tech savvy and some studies indicate they’re surpassing young people in their willingness to embrace digital devices. This means at home and on the go, portable devices put all their media at their fingertips. As a result, both groups find they no longer require space to store books, videos, music and a wall-full of single-function components.
    Lifestyle

    Many young people socialize outside their living spaces rather than at home, and when they do entertain, it’s casual and informal. Those who lived in college dorms find shared amenities like gyms, game rooms and laundry facilities familiar and normal. When combined with ready access to nearby coffee shops, bars, restaurants, music and entertainment, these factors make small-space living not just viable but appealing.

    Many older Americans share similar traits. They want to be in vibrant urban settings or convenient satellite locations that offer access to grocery stores, shops, cafes, parks and more. Some prefer senior-only complexes, some want to remain an integral part of a larger community, and both are seeking spaces that reflect their interests, lifestyle and desire to remain active and engaged.

    Economy

    For both young and old, the trend toward small spaces is partly economic. The Great Recession led to sluggish employment and modest salaries, so roughly one-third of all millennials chose to live at home. Now that many are in their late 20s and early 30s, they’re eager and ready to live as independent adults.

    At the other end of the spectrum, many seniors faced rising costs and reduced retirement incomes that wrecked havoc with their finances. Both groups are seeking apartments that offer the appeal of independence in a compact, manageable and affordable package.

    Bottom Line

    As different as these two groups seem, they share many commonalities. They’re seeking creative ways to become or remain independent, be active and engaged, connect with a larger community, and make the most of the time, money and technologies at hand.

    The result? Millennials and seniors are making small spaces the new big thing throughout Tulsa apartments and beyond.

    ENLIGHTENME.COM

  • 06/23/2015

    9 Ways to Reduce Your Summer Utility Bills





    Before the summer heat and summertime utility bill starts to make you sweat, you might want to consider making a few changes to cut your energy consumption. You can save dollar off our monthly bills without sacrificing comfort as long as you plan ahead and get creative. Here's a room-by-room guide to saving money this summer and benefiting the Earth at the same time.

    Throughout the House

    Submit a work order to have any broken or worn seals around doors or windows replaced to keep the cool air inside.

    Set your thermostats at a higher (warmer) temperature when you're not at home during the day or night.
    Replace older light bulbs you may have in your lamps with compact fluorescents. This not only reduces your electricity bill, it can help save energy on air conditioning since fluorescents generate less heat.
    Use ceiling fans if you have them.
    Close off vents to unused rooms to lighten the load of your air conditioning unit.

    In the Living Room

    There's nothing wrong with hosting a movie night this summer, but make sure you shut your entertainment center down when the evening is over. Simply turning off a television set doesn't put a stop to the power supply-the devices consume power even when they're not in use. That's why you should either unplug your electronics or use a Smart Strip, which cuts power when it's not needed.

    If you're in the market for a new television, check energy efficiency ratings. The Energy Department bestows its Energy Star rating to sets that use about one-third less energy than regular televisions. In general, LCD televisions use less energy than plasma screens, but both use more than older sets.

    In the Kitchen

    Baking a cake or casserole in the summer will force your air conditioner to go into overdrive. Plus, eating hot food will only make you want to turn the thermostat down. But you don't have to survive only on cold pasta salads and gazpacho this summer. Instead of using your oven, consider using an outdoor grill or toaster oven for small amounts of food.

    In the Bathroom

    Small steps such as turning off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving can save a substantial amount of water (and money on your water bill) each year.

  • 03/30/2015

    5 Tips for Moving Cross-Country

    You’d have to be a robot not to get stressed over the prospect of a cross-country move. There are a lot of moving pieces – literally – and too many details to think about without breaking out in a cold sweat.

    But if you know a move to an apartment far, far away is the right choice for you, our tips for moving cross-country will help the process go as smoothly as possible. Like any big project, the secret to pulling it off successfully is to break it into smaller, more digestible pieces.

    Get rid of stuff

    And we mean a lot of stuff. Anything that isn’t necessary or sentimental needs to go. Does your couch sport stains and broken springs after years of use? It might be time for a new one, and the time to buy it is after you move. Ditto for old clothes, linens, artwork you don’t want hanging on your walls anymore and board games you haven’t played in years.

    You have to lug everything you own, so the more you pare it down, the easier your move will be. Having trouble parting with your possessions? Look at it this way: Moving is a good excuse to start a new chapter in your life. Starting over with new furnishings may help you turn the page.

    Clean your things pre-move

    Every time you put something in a box, wipe it down first. It may take longer, but you’ll appreciate everything being nice and clean when you unpack it later.

    Use sturdy packing materials

    Your stuff is going to go in a moving truck, and who knows how many bumps that truck will hit and how many sharp turns it’ll take? It may get rough in there, so protect your things by packing them carefully, with lots of padding and sturdy boxes. It’s not a bad idea to use plastic bins instead of cardboard boxes – they’re waterproof and generally more durable; plus, you’ll be able to use them in all sorts of ways around the home after your move, which makes your move a little greener.

    Label EVERYTHING

    The more complicated your move is, the more likely things are to get lost. If you start early, you can keep a detailed inventory of how many boxes you have and what’s in each box. It may sound like a lot of work, but you’ll appreciate it when you have documentation if something goes missing. Plus, when you arrive in your new city, you’ll probably be pretty overwhelmed – so having your things present and accounted for when you get there will be good peace of mind.

    Consider transportation

    The first thing you need to decide is: Will you move yourself or hire movers?

    If you own a car and are planning on bringing it with you, remember that you have to drive it to your new city along with the moving truck. If you can enlist a trusted friend to drive your car or the truck, or if you’re comfortable towing your car from the back of the moving truck, doing it yourself may be an option.

    But it’s more likely that your car plus the moving truck are too much to handle on your own. Movers can load and drive the truck for you. They’ll even pack your stuff for an extra fee (but if you’re on a budget, that’s something you should do yourself.) Shop around and get quotes from several different moving companies to determine the best deal – and since moving cross-country can get quite pricey, get a "not to exceed" estimate.

    You know what’s really not fun? Getting lost. You know when it’s really not fun? Getting lost with a truck full of all your belongings. Even though you’ll probably rely on GPS, map out your route before you leave. It never hurts to print out detailed directions in case something goes wrong (technology isn't full proof). If your move will span two or more days, make hotel reservations well in advance, and keep to your schedule.

    Have more questions about your upcoming move? If you're relocating to Oklahoma, our leasing agents would love to assist you. Call us at (918) 995-2950.

  • 03/13/2015

    A Guide to Different Types of Rentals



    In the midst of an apartment search, you're likely to come across a lot of different terms used to describe a rental. At times, the jargon can be confusing, especially to first time renters.

    Use this guide to cut through the terminology and to have a better understanding of which rental listings fit your needs before you schedule a viewing with a leasing agent.

    Convertible
    An apartment featuring a space large enough to be walled off and used as a dining area or bedroom. For example, a convertible two-bedroom (aka "flex 2") is a place that already has a large bedroom as well as an area that could be walled off to create a second bedroom.

    Studio
    One room with a full bathroom and a kitchen. It may have an alcove for dressing or dining.

    Convertible Studio
    A studio plus. This could be a studio large enough to be able to create a walled-off space for sleeping.

    Loft
    One large room, usually located in a building that was converted from commercial to residential, with really high ceilings and windows. A loft can present with anything from a studio to three bedrooms, although this is usually specified at the outset.

    One Bedroom
    a step up from a studio, a junior 1 might be a large studio or a loft of sorts, sometimes featuring a separate sleeping area and/or an eat-in kitchen.

    Two Bedroom
    Also known as a real two-bedroom, this has two actual bedrooms, a common living space, and a kitchen which might be separate.

    Duplex
    apartments with two or three levels, respectively. The levels may be unique in that the second or third level is for sleeping only, or they may feature actual floors with bathrooms on each level.

    Townhouse
    The townhouse/townhome style apartment provides the tenant the feeling of single-family home with the "attachment" of an apartment community. The traditional townhouse apartment is usually a two-story unit with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. Some units may also include a garage.

    Community Amenities
    While this isn't a type of rental, this is a common feature of nearly every rental listing. This term applies to any tangible or intangible benefit associated with a rental unit or residential community. Amenities usually increase a community's attractiveness or value and contribute to its overall comfort or convenience. Tangible amenities may include a swimming pool, tennis courts, fitness facilities or a clubhouse. Intangible amenities may include views, nearby activities or highly rated local schools. 

  • 02/26/2015

    5 Things to Consider When Figuring How Much to Spend on Rent




    Rent is often the largest part of a person’s monthly expenses and determining how much you should spend on your rent can be tricky. There are a lot of factors to weigh in making your ultimate decision.

    Your income might indicate you can afford a certain amount, but after factoring in other expenses, you might find what you can comfortably afford is a different figure. Here are 5 of the most important things to consider when deciding how much of your money you should spend on rent.

    Make a budget

    The first step is to set a budget. With people carrying less and less physical cash, it's easy to swipe away and not realize how much you're spending on the non-essentials. Being more aware of how much you make after taxes and where you're spending your money could be beneficial to your long-term financial stability.

    The exact amount that you can afford will depend on your other debt, bills, money set aside for savings and how much prefer to spend on things like shopping, entertainment, travel, etc. Start by writing down all of your expenses and then see what is left. After this, you should have an idea of the range of how much money you can afford to dedicate to rent in your monthly budget.

    Location

    Not researching the area where a potential apartment or house is located is one of the biggest mistakes that renters can make. You should take time to determine where you want to live, taking into consideration the safety of the area, the schools (if applicable), the convenience of nearby stores, and so on. You also might be attached to a particular part of town for other reasons, like the neighborhood itself. If you are attached to a specific area, you might be willing to spend more to live there, especially if you will have a short commute to work. On the other hand, even if the price of an apartment is at the bottom of your budget, if you won’t be happy with your surroundings, the deal may not be worth it.

    Cost of Living

    If you are looking for a rental in an area that you have lived in for a while, you may already know what the cost of living is like. However, if you are moving to another city or state, or you are renting for the first time, it’s important to consider the cost of living in the area where you want to rent. You can do much of this research online. If you know that the cost of living is cheaper in a certain area, you might feel more comfortable spending more of your income on an ideal rental because you won’t have to spend as much on groceries and other items. At the same time, if the cost of living is expensive, you might have to expect to spend more to get what you want (or you might need to spend less in order to pay for your other bills.)

    Weigh your priorities

    While having a large apartment in the perfect neighborhood is nice, it isn’t always the most important thing. Even if you have a large income or your bills don’t account for much of the money you have each month, that doesn’t mean you should spend a lot on rent. You also need to figure out if you are saving enough for emergencies and retirement. If you have a lot of debt, you might want to get a more affordable place and pay down your debt before you start spending a lot of money on the fanciest place possible.

    Space

    When looking for a rental, you need to figure out how much space you need. If you live alone, you might be comfortable in a studio apartment or a one bedroom, but you also might want more space. If you are hoping to live with roommates, you also need to consider how many rooms you might want, and the same is true for people living with a spouse or children. Your job also might be an important part of your decision. If you need a home office, you will want to factor that in when you make your decision. You also might be looking for a particular layout or specific amenities. How much of the budgeted amount that you actually end up spending will depend somewhat on how much of your wish list you are getting out of your new place.

    There is no magic number that is right for each person searching for a rental, but our professional leasing agents are happy to help you figure it out. Contact us by phone at (918) 995-2950 or email at info@winfieldpm.com.

  • 02/11/2015

    How much space do you need in your new apartment?


    If you’re actively or about to start looking for a new apartment, you might be struggling to decide how much space your new place needs to have. It might seem like an easy decision, but there are many factors that can influence what size of an apartment you choose.

    We're here to help you get started. Kick off your decision-making process by answering our questions below.

    What is your budget? 
    If you're operating on a tight budget many of questions below will be unnecessary. Determining what you can afford is the first step in any apartment search. If you're living alone, your budget may be more limited than if you sharing the expenses with someone else. Don't fall in love with the idea of a lot of extra space if there isn't any wiggle room in the budget.

    How many people are you? 
    If you will have two occupants and are a couple who will be living together for the first time, you might think you only need one bedroom. What you’ll soon find out is that a one bedroom isn't that much space for two people. If you’re consolidating two apartments into one, you may need the second room just for the extra storage space, but it's more likely to house your guests, an office or just a place to have some personal space. Trust us — the extra space could be a crucial factor in maintaining a healthy relationship.

    If you have children, age and lifestyle are huge factors on how many additional rooms you may need.

    Where do you work? 
    If you work at home, don’t even think about getting a one bedroom place. You definitely need two. Separating your work space from your personal space is vital when you work at home. If your bedroom and living area is infused with work energy, one of two things can happen — you might never take a day off or you'll never be able to focus intently on your work with all the distractions and comfort of home. Designate a second bedroom as an office. As an added benefit, you’ll probably be able to save some money on your taxes as a result.

    How much time do you spend at home? 
    If you answered “none” and you are one or two people, then you probably only need a one bedroom place. If your apartment is just a crash-and-land pad, then maybe a smaller place is best for you. You won’t use the space when you’re not there all the time.

    How many friends do you have? 
    If you answered “none,” then we invite you to be our friend and "like" us on Facebook. But even if you just have a few close friends that may still be a reason to get a two bedroom place. If you know you could have overnight guests, a second bedroom is a great idea. Nobody likes to sleep on the couch and it can be really inconvenient to forfeit your living room during the entirety of their stay, especially for long-term guests.

    Could you have more occupants in the near future?
    This question involves something very uncertain — the future. You can't necessarily predict it, but you should plan for it. Near future, in this case, pertains to the term of your lease. So, if you can imagine a situation (pregnancy, adoption, family member moving in, etc.) within the span of your initial lease where you'd need extra room, go for the extra bedroom. It's always better to have extra space.

    If you have more questions about finding the right apartment for your needs, we have a wide selection and our leasing agents are here to help. Call us at (918) 995-2950 or email at info@winfieldpm.com.

  • 01/30/2015

    The Essentials of Moving in the Middle of the School Year


    Moving during the school year may be a challenge for your family, but sometimes it is unavoidable.

    It could be as simple as your current living situation just doesn't meet your needs. Maybe your lease ends in February and you can't afford a rent increase. You might just want to live closer to work.

    Expect your kids to experience some initial anxiety when you break the news about moving. That's natural, especially if a move means changing schools. Moving means changing their routine, which is scary for kids, and leaving friends behind.

    The transition will take time, and you may deal with some pushback until they've adjusted. Keep in mind that your attitude can help shape your child’s, so remember to stay positive and excited about your new adventure.

    In this post, you'll find some practical tips to help make the transition be easier on your family.

    Find the Right Place

    Look for an apartment complex that offers family-friendly amenities, like a swimming pool or a playground near by. These amenities will boost the chances that your child will be able to make some new friends close to home. Also, it can also give your kids something to look forward to.

    If you've reflected on the potential positive aspects of your move before you break the news about the move, you'll be able to reassure your child right from the start.

    Get Them Involved

    Keep your kids in the loop when it comes to the move. Don't wait until the last minute to tell your kids that they need to pack up all of their personal belongings. Ease them into the idea and give them time to process.


    Look at the extracurricular activities your child’s new school offers. If you give your kids the opportunity to pick something out before the move, they will have something to look forward to in order to relieve some of the anxiety of the move. You could even reach out to coaches or activity leaders beforehand to ensure that these staff members are prepared to help make your child feel at ease.

    Explore the New School

    Find out if your child’s new school allows for a mid-year orientation or tour before your child starts attending. This is more reasonable if you are moving within driving distance of your current home. If you are moving farther away, consider asking the new school if they have any online resources for new students. This will give your child a chance to check everything out and explore the layout of the school.

    Establish a Routine Quickly

    Find out how your child will be getting to and from school before you make the move. This will give you the opportunity to map out the route. If you are driving her to school each day, take a test run on your first day in your new town. If your child is going to be taking the bus, ask the school about the schedule to be sure she is in the right place at the right time to avoid embarrassment.

    Jump into a routine as soon as the move is complete. Children crave a routine and thrive when they know what to expect. Setting a routine also provides you with the benefit of knowing where you need to be each day. Routines just make the transition easier for everyone in the household.

    Keep in Touch

    Encourage your child to bridge to her new school by keeping ties with old friends while making new ones. Much of the anxiety that comes with starting at a new school in the middle of the year has to do with social connections. Keeping in touch with old friends provides comfort and may give your child the confidence that she needs to be social in her new school.

  • 12/30/2014

    5 Times When Your Renter's Insurance Is A Life Saver




    Most rental communities require proof of renter's insurance before a tenant can move-in, but some of you prospective or even current renters may wonder why it's so important and when you'll get a benefit from having that coverage.

    It's hard to imagine you'll ever need to use your renter's insurance, but is possible you will sustain some kind of significant property damage in your lifetime. Sometimes these situations are unavoidable and if you do endure some kind disaster, renter's insurance will probably be your life saver. Hopefully, after reading this post you'll understand why.

    Generally, your landlord's insurance will cover repairs to the property, but not your belongings or the cost of living elsewhere if you have to leave during repairs. Not all renter's insurance policies cover the same things. This post discusses the most practical and common situations that renters often benefit from having coverage. We recommend thoroughly reviewing any current or future policies you have to understand what your coverage includes.

    Disasters

    As many Oklahomans know, when a natural disaster strikes it can destroy most of your worldly possessions with little warning. Natural disasters are only one type of disaster to consider though.

    Renter's insurance will cover property damage caused by fire, smoke, windstorms, lightning, explosions, electrical surges, snowstorms and certain kinds of water damage.

    It's tempting to think you don't have anything valuable enough to require insuring, but think about all the little things. Most people acquire their possessions over time, but if you have to buy the essentials all at once the cost will add up. How much would it cost to replace your dining room table? Your microwave? Your bed? Your couch? Your clothes? Your television?

    Most people can't afford to replace all these items out of pocket and that's a big reason why being covered is so important.

    Theft and Vandalism

    If someone breaks into your apartment and steals your laptop, jewelry or other valuables it can be devastating. These items may or may not be recovered by the police. Replacement may be the only option. Standard renter's insurance policies also cover your belongings in case of theft.

    To make things easier on yourself down the road, take photos of any expensive items that you have, like a TV or computer, in case you need proof of purchase at some point.

    Also, renter's insurance will typically help you cover the cost of items damaged by vandalism or sometimes even if they're stolen outside of the home.

    Staying Elsewhere

    Where are you supposed to go if your place is no longer livable during repairs?

    If the water hose breaks on your washing machine and floods your apartment, for example, you'll need to stay somewhere else while the damage is repaired. This could be a huge financial burden if you had to pay for this on your own, but insurance will generally cover your housing costs if it's necessary for you to live elsewhere during repairs.

    Accidental Injury

    The best way to handle an accident is to be prepared for them. Renter's insurance can cover your legal liability for any accidents that might happen in your home. If someone gets injured at your rental, your policy will likely cover the claimant's medical expenses and costs from any resulting lawsuits. Generally, renter's insurance will cover your legal expenses and any court reward up to $100,000.

    Accidental Damage

    The liability protection doesn't end with what happens in your home. Your policy can cover you if you damage other people's property -- like, if you break a neighbor's window while playing baseball in the street.

    While you hope a disaster or accident never happens to you, it can. It's just that simple. You've worked hard to acquire everything you have and renter's insurance is a small price to pay for having peace of mind in your home and during your every day life.

    For more information on renter's insurance or on finding your next home, email our leasing office at info@winfieldpm.com.

  • 12/16/2014

    Protecting Your Wi-Fi in an Apartment Community

    Connecting to an unsecured wireless network can leave your computer or mobile device susceptible to a plethora of security risks and unwanted activity. Not only that, but unauthorized users can slow your connection down to a crawl, access your private data, or even use the network to perform shady activities that can be traced back to you. While it may seem incredibly complicated, the basics to secure your wireless network are rather simple.

    Why it matters

    Internet usage is measured in terms of bandwidth. The more you email, tweet and play Sims, the more bandwidth is being utilized. Depending on how your internet provider charges, you may be paying for others to surf the net.

    Also, if someone using your network is doing anything unlawful online it will initially be tracked back to the person whom the wireless connection is registered to – that means you!

    Is someone else using my Wi-Fi connection?

    Pay close attention to how your Wi-Fi performs. Is your normally lightning fast internet speed suddenly operating at a snail’s pace? Does this occur consistently around the same time of day or night? Do apps on your phone or tablet not open or run as quickly as they once did? Any of these situations could be cause for concern.

    To check, try turning off and unplugging every Wi-Fi device in your home. This includes not only phones, computers and tablets, but game consoles as well (ie. PlayStation, Wii, Xbox, etc.) Once everything is disconnected, the indicator lights on your wireless router should no longer be blinking. If they are, this may mean that someone outside your home is connected to your Wi-Fi.

    While the option above is probably the easiest, it’s not the only way to see if anyone is helping themselves to your Wi-Fi. More complicated methods include logging into your network administrative console using your IP address. And if you’d rather sit back while someone else does the dirty work, there are third party software apps that’ll track internet invaders on your behalf.

    Password

    Be vigilant when giving out your Wi-Fi password. Once a friend has it, they can come into your neighborhood any time and connect – even from their car. Hopefully you don’t have friends like that.

    Don’t make it easy for those looking for free Wi-Fi. If your network password is something easily retrievable like your phone number or name, change it to something that others won’t be able to guess. A long, random string of letters and numbers is ideal.

    Reduce wireless signal range

    Most routers can be accessed by entering “192.168.1.1” in your browser’s address bar and typing in a username and password. The defaults do vary from router to router. Check the instructional manual included with your router for the default IP address, username, and password. If unavailable, try looking up the router’s defaults at routerpasswords.com, or cirt.net. Most security options can only be accessed through the router’s administrative console and settings.

    It often proves more difficult to access a wireless network that’s not in range. Your router might have fantastic signal strength, but what if you live in an apartment building where other tenants are living just on the other side of the wall? Try limiting your router’s signal range to only a specified area through one or multiple options. It may take a bit of trial and error, depending on the method.

    Some routers will give you an option to decrease the transmitting power in the administrative settings. If possible, change the mode of the router to 802.11g instead of higher signal strengths such as 802.11n or 802.11b, or use a separate wireless channel altogether.

    More old-school approaches to limiting your wireless signal include placing the router in certain areas of your house, away from windows, under a bed, or in a cupboard. You can also try wrapping foil around the router antennas to better direct the wireless signal, but this can also slow your connection or even boost your signal strength depending on how you do it.

    Solutions based on provider

    If you have some technical know-how, you can go the DIY route and protect your own Wi-Fi. There are plenty of resources online that will guide you to a safer internet connection. Start with your service provider. If Cox is your service provider, find help online here.

    If you have trouble securing your network or are unsure of how to detect someone using your Wi-Fi, you can always contact your internet service provider for professional help with securing and encrypting your private connection.

  • 11/20/2014

    Best Ways to Save Money on Your Next Move



    According to the Washington Post, Americans spend an average of $12,230 per move. That's a lot of money diverting from your other expenses. Some people are hesitant to move because they feel moving costs are such a financial burden, but with a little planning, it's possible to find ways to save on moving expenses.

    Set a Budget

    Moving expenses can add up fast if you're not careful. Before you start spending money, set a budget for your move. Estimate the cost of the moving company or truck, add a line item for moving supplies, and don't forget to include the costs associated with securing a new home - security deposits, first and last months' rent, a down payment if you're purchasing a home, and utility set-up fees should all be accounted for. Set aside a contingency fund for miscellaneous items or emergency expenses, as well. After you've determined your upper limit for spending, don't let yourself waver. Keep your budget handy and update it as your move progresses.

    Do It Yourself/With Friends

    Moving companies are expensive, so if you want to save money, your best bet is to take on the challenge yourself. Rally your family and friends, order a few pizzas and pick up some beer, and make an event out of packing and loading your moving truck. Everyone can pitch in by wrapping dishes, labeling boxes, and hauling furniture. Many hands make light work, so you might be surprised how fast the job goes.

    Negotiate

    If you can't do the move entirely on your own, try negotiating with the moving company to keep costs down. Offer to buy your own moving supplies and pack your own boxes. If possible, offer flexibility on your moving dates or see if you can share a truck with someone else moving to the same city.

    If you're not opposed to driving a moving van, but you don't think you can load it yourself, consider renting a truck and hiring a moving company to take care of the loading. You can expect to spend at least a couple hundred dollars on each end of your journey, but having the extra help makes the whole process easier.

    Get Organized Before Your Move

    Before you start packing for your move, go through your house and identify the items you no longer need. Larger items, such as furniture and appliances, can be sold on Craigslist, while smaller items, such as digital cameras or textbooks, are more likely to sell on Amazon or eBay. Start this process as soon as you know you'll be moving so that the clutter is cleared before moving day. Less things to move will result in less time needed and will lower your final bill.

    Pack the Kitchen Last and Set It Up First

    One of the most frustrating moving expenses is the added cost of eating out because your kitchen and cooking supplies aren't available. To lower these expenses as much as possible, wait until the last possible minute to pack up your kitchen, and make sure your boxes are well-labeled and handy so you can unpack them first.

    If you're relocating for work, there may be tax deductions you can apply to your moving expenses. Even if your employer is covering most of the cost of the move, keep your receipts and talk to an accountant to determine if you qualify for additional deductions.

    How do you minimize your moving costs?

  • 11/06/2014

    Apartment Checklist: What To Do Before A Holiday Vacation

    Picture it. You're relaxing at a beautiful ski resort, about to hit the slopes when suddenly you realize your rent is due today, you can't remember which utility bills have automatic payments set up and you're 90% sure you left the heat set 10 degrees above normal.

    Don't damper your vacation by forgetting to take care of the basics. We've compiled a quick checklist to help you get on the road to a stress free holiday vacation.

    Plan ahead for bills

    Avoid the mid-vacation panic of remembering overdue bills by planning ahead a little. Before you leave, set up auto pay online for both or pay them ahead of time. Don't wait until the last minute to drop off your rent check because you're more likely to get rushed and forget to do it.

    Hold the mail

    If your expecting a package to be delivered to your leasing office, let them know you'll be  you should also notify your apartment’s management so they will know to hold it for you until you return. Also, if you're going to be gone for an extended period of time, contact the Post Office and request that they hold your mail.

    Set your thermostat

    Don't return from vacation to huge utility bills. DO NOT turn your heat completely off or set it below 60 degrees during winter, but you can set it lower than when you're in your home. You'd be surprised how much money setting your thermostat a few degrees lower will save you on your utility bill.

    Clean up

    Speaking of hot air, you don’t want smelly trash in your apartment while you’re away. Empty all trash bins and take out the recycling before you depart. Clean out any food in the fridge or pantry, like milk that will expire while you're away and wash all the dishes in the sink. You'll be glad you did when you get back.

    Give management a heads up

    Stop by the office or leave a voicemail before you leave letting management know how long you will be gone and how to reach you in case of an emergency. That way if something comes up, like a maintenance issue or a package arrives for you, they will know what to do.

    Prep your vehicle

    If you’ll be leaving your car behind while you travel, make sure it’s parked in a safe place, the doors are locked, and any valuables are either covered or removed from the car completely.

    Lock all doors and windows

    Last, but not least, check that all your doors and windows are properly locked. Close your curtains and blinds, so it won't be obvious that no one is home. Nothing will kill your post-vacation bliss faster than coming home to discover you’ve had a break-in.

    How do you prepare for vacation?

  • 10/30/2014

    7 Ways to Reduce Your Heating Bill This Winter

    frozen leaf

    We've experienced our first few weeks of chilly fall weather in Oklahoma and below freezing winter temperatures will be here in no time. Making some minor adjustments in your home can make a significant impact to lowering your utility bills in the coming months. Here are seven simple ways you can reduce your energy consumption this winter.

    Bundle Up
    This is one of the easiest ways to save on your heating bill. Before you turn the heat up, try layering up. Put on a heavy winter sweater and some warm socks. Keep throw blankets on your couch and add an area rug to insulate the floor.

    Adjust the Thermostat at Night
    According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save about 10 percent per year on your heating bills by turning your thermostat down 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours. Consider investing in flannel sheets and a warm comforter for your bed and keeping your apartment a little cooler when you sleep.

    Heat the Rooms You Use
    If you have rooms that you don't use often, like a guest room or a large closet, keep those doors closed and seal off the vents in those rooms to be more energy efficient and direct the flow of air to the rooms you use most.

    Unblock Windows and Vents
    The sun provides heat and its always free of charge. Open your curtains on your south-facing windows during winter days to bring extra heat in. Close them when the sun goes down to keep the heat inside.

    Keep your vents open and unblocked. Dust can easily accumulate on the vent, causing your heating unit to work twice as hard to heat a room. Keeping those vents clean will reduce energy consumption.

    Control Your Thermostat
    The biggest utility expense in the winter is heating. In fact, temperature control typically accounts for more than half of energy costs in any home. You can save 3 percent on your heating bill for every one degree you lower the thermostat.

    Also, pay attention to peak use hours. Peak hours will vary based on where you live and sometimes the weather conditions. During times of high use in your area, the price of gas or electricity increases because of the demand. Lower your heat during these periods and you will lower your bill.

    Unplug Devices Not In Use
    About $10 billion is wasted every year on vampire energy, also known as standby power, according to the EPA. Newer devices, like computers, automatically power down when they are not in use. Devices without this power down capability, like some video game consoles, simply waste electricity. Smart power strips can help. Check the power management settings on your computer and television to ensure they automatically go into sleep mode when not in use.

    Use a Humidifier
    The air inside your home can become very dry. Moist air feels warmer and holds heat better, so a humidifier can help you feel comfortable when your thermostat is set at a lower temperature. You can also increase the humidity in your apartment with a collection of house plants.

    Hopefully, you'll find some (or all) of these tips helpful in reducing your utility bills over the coming months. What do you do lower your heating bills during the colder months of the year?

  • 10/06/2014

    5 Ways To Make A New City Feel Like Home


    Moving to a brand new city can be exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. New opportunities await you, but if you don't know anyone and are unfamiliar with the area it can also be a little scary.

    Here's some things you can do to help you feel right at home in a new place.

    Explore
    This may sound obvious, but it's important to explore when you arrive in a new city. Dedicate whole days to getting acclimated. Find the closest drugstores, test out the local restaurants and locate the closest movie theater. Spend your first few months trying new things at every opportunity. When you want to eat out, make it a new place. Try all the local grocery chains. You’ll never figure out what places have the best deals if you stick to the first place you try.

    If there are certain traditions that locals participate in, take part.  If even if it feels this strange at first, just remind yourself it’s just different from what you are used to. If you compare everything to what you loved wherever your home is, you will often be disappointed. It’s not “bad,” it’s just “different.”

    Be social at work
    A lot of big moves are motivated by employment opportunities. When starting a new job, be sure to establish yourself as a team player right from the start. Put in the long hours, bring the Friday doughnuts, head to the favorite watering hole, and refrain from making any “suggestions” until you’ve been there long enough to understand both how and why things happen. This will help you thrive with your new employers and give you a favorable reputation with your coworkers.

    After you settle in to the new job, don’t just hide in your cubicle all day. If your coworkers invite you to lunch, take that chance to get to know them. If your company has a company softball team, a community service program or goes out for weekly happy hours, join in. You are going to be spending a lot of time with these people; the work day will be more enjoyable if you have a good relationship with them. And who knows, you may even like them enough to hang out with them during your free time.

    Join a hobby group
    Do you love to run, read, bike or play ball? Most likely there is a club or program in your area for people who share your interests. Look online or for flyers at your local library or in the newspaper for sports and special interest organizations.

    Leverage your connections
    Even if you don’t think you know anyone who lives in your new city, you probably have a friend who does. As you spread the news about your move, take people up on their offers to introduce you to the people they know in your new city. You already have a shared connection, and if nothing else, you can get together for coffee or a sightseeing tour. You may even be introduced to their friends, which before long may become your friends as well.

    Volunteer
    Volunteering is a great way to meet other people and get involved in your city. Pick an organization or cause that you are passionate about, like an animal shelter, homeless shelter or tutoring program, then go to a meeting or event they are sponsoring. Not only will you meet new people, you’ll spend your spare time helping a worthwhile cause in the process.

    The more you immerse yourself in your new culture, the more you’ll begin to feel at home.

  • 09/16/2014

    Finding the Right Home for Your Lifestyle

    The "perfect apartment" is something completely different to every person.

    When finding your perfect apartment, it’s important to consider which place will best fit your lifestyle. With so many types of rentals to choose from – lofts, apartments, a duplex, a townhouse and everything in between – identifying what you want and need early on will help streamline the search process.

    Trendy/Urban

    If you want your apartment to fit your trendy style, consider a loft in an urban area. Lofts are quite popular these days and provide the perfect backdrop for hosting friends over and catching up on what’s current. The great thing about a loft is, they’re perfect for one person or several people – you can often find lofts ranging from studios to 2-bedroom units. They are often housed in revitalized industrial buildings, and many feature exposed beams and original brickwork. Lofts are also very open spaces, and have few walls dividing up the layout of the rental.

    Relaxed/Suburban

    If you prefer a quieter, more laid-back way of life, finding an apartment in a suburban area might be ideal for you! Depending on the city where you reside, this type of apartment should be fairly easy to find. Many people appreciate the lifestyle that a suburban area affords them; often, these areas are located near shopping, restaurants, and the interstate – all of which can make everyday life easier for you. Suburban apartments typically offer the most square footage and are perfect for renters living alone or with a crowd.

    Sleek/Savvy

    There’s something exciting about being able to look out your windows and see the world from above, and living in a high-rise apartment can provide this opportunity. You may be a city dweller but have a preference for the sleeker things in life, so a high-rise could be a better fit than a loft. Often, these types of apartments come with premium amenities to help you live a lifestyle fit for the famous. From shiny, stainless appliances, to wall-to-wall views of the city, concierge, movie theaters and more, you’ll love coming home to this posh type of rental!

    These are just three out of many options. Do your preliminary research and thinking about what type of lifestyle you prefer. Your ideal rental is out there.